November 4: average date of the first coating (1/10th of an inch) of snow in the Twin Cities. Details below.
7th quietest Atlantic hurricane season, to date, in the last 70 years. Details from Climate Central below.
Staring at the weather maps comes as a relief after the drama and trauma of recent days. Debt ceilings, fiscal cliffs - staring into the abyss. "Now let's go to Paul with the weather!"
I hope you can check out the Star Tribune weather blog, which I spend entirely too much time on every day. You can get an updated forecast, but also see the raw model maps that drive these predictions. That, and a stream of weather and climate-related stories that catch my eye every day.
Today's post includes scientific confirmation that weather does impact our health. Lightning can spark headaches, sharp drops in air pressure ahead of storms can increase depression symptoms, and arthritis is more likely to flare up on cold days. All that stuff your grandma taught you.
The forecast calls for bouts of depression and arthritis as a series of Alberta Clippers yank increasingly cold air southward. Next week will look & feel more like mid-November than mid-October. A frost/freeze Sunday morning gives way to an airmass cold enough for the first flakes of autumn.
Right now I don't see any accumulation (it's too early to see that in print) but I'm sensing a little payback for a glorious September.
Nuisance Snow Potential. 12km NAM data shows a coating to a half inch of slush, mainly on lawns & fields over far western Minnesota and the Red River Valley, as much as 2" over North Dakota. Map: Ham Weather.
Fast-Forward Fall. We go from an August-like early October to a November-like late October. Makes perfect sense to me. A few instability (rain) showers are possible this afternoon, again Saturday afternoon, a better chance of a cold rain Sunday night (possibly mixed with wet snow over central Minnesota). The atmosphere will be cold enough for wet snow much of next week - but a lack of deep moisture should mean little more than flurries. Graph: Weatherspark.
First Real Shot On Winter. 4km NAM data shows a few showers and sprinkles later today and Saturday, mixing with a little wet snow up north by Saturday night and Sunday. Heavy wet snow falls over the Rockies, while the leading edge of a November-like airmass pushes a pinwheel of rain into New England.
An Early Taste of Winter. 12km NAM data shows an airmass more typical of mid-November draining south out of Canada in the coming days, a hard freeze likely by early next week from Minnesota into the Dakotas. Cold air will push as far south as the Gulf Coast by Monday. Loop: NOAA and Ham Weather.
An Early Outbreak Of Heavy Jackets. NOAA's CPC (Climate Prediction Center) shows a strong bias toward much colder weather the last week of October, in fact chilly temperatures are likely east of the Rockies. Map: Ham Weather.
Trending Wetter. Here are precipitation anomalies since October 1, showing 4 times more rain (and snow) than average for the month, to date, over the Dakotas and Wyoming, 2-3 times average rainfall amounts for much of Minnesota, helping to put a serious dent in the drought. Map: Prism Climate Group, Oregon State.
Next Week: Coldest Of The Season So Far. So says Planalytics, and I happen to agree. Here's an excerpt of one of Planalytic's recent summaries: "...While the first two weeks of October have been warm in the East and cool in the West, there are indications that the pattern will change. Temperatures will drop in major markets in the Northeast, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic regions as we move through next week (October 20-26) with the West Coast experiencing a warming trend. Although most of interior North America is currently cooler than normal, the core of the cold temperatures remains bottled up in Canada. Limited cold and snow continues to be focused in the higher elevations of the Rockies and central regions along the U.S. – Canadian border..."
It's True! The Weather Really Does Affect Your Health. Here's a clip from a story at PBS's Next Avenue that caught my eye: "If your achy knee "tells" you when it's going to rain, you already know weather can have an impact on your body. Here's an expert look at how what's happening outside can affect how you feel inside — and it's not always negative:
Lightning: Increased Headache Risk Lightning storms may trigger headaches and migraines in chronic sufferers, according to a study by University of Cincinnati researchers recently published in the journal Cephalalgia. The study detected a 31 percent increase in the risk of headaches and a 28 percent increase in the risk of migraines among chronic sufferers on days when lighting struck within 25 miles of participants' homes..."
First Coating Of Snow For Select Cities? Yes, this is my way of cheering you up on a Thursday. Thanks to State Climatologist Greg Spoden for providing me with this information. Bottom line, the mean (average) date of the first coating (tenth of an inch or more) in the Twin Cities is November 4. More details at this site:
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport - Date of First Snowfall => 0.1"
(period of record: 1938 - 2012)
mean: November 4
earliest: September 24, 1985
latest: December 2, 1963
Duluth International Airport - Date of First Snowfall => 0.1"
(period of record: 1948 - 2012)
mean: October 23
earliest: September 18, 1991 (* note: very early snowfall last year - September 21, 2012 *)
latest: November 26, 2004
International Falls Airport - Date of First Snowfall => 0.1"
(period of record: 1948 - 2012)
mean: October 19
earliest: September 14, 1964
latest: December 8, 1999
Fargo International Airport - Date of First Snowfall => 0.1"
(period of record: 1942 - 2012)
mean: November 2
earliest: September 25, 1942
latest: December 14, 1999
Rochester International Airport - Date of First Snowfall => 0.1"
(period of record: 1933 - 2012)
mean: November 5
earliest: September 26, 1942
latest: December 19, 1939
Pacific Ocean Temperature Influences Tornado Activity In U.S., MU Study Finds. Here's a clip from a very interesting story about new research, courtesy of The University of Missouri: "...McCoy and Lupo found that the tornados that occurred when surface sea temperatures were above average were usually located to the west and north of tornado alley, an area in the Midwestern part of the U.S. that experiences more tornados than any other area. McCoy also found that when sea surface temperatures were cooler, more tornadoes tracked from southern states, like Alabama, into Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana. “Differences in sea temperatures influence the route of the jet stream as it passes over the Pacific and, eventually, to the United States,” McCoy said. “Tornado-producing storms usually are triggered by, and will follow, the jet stream. This helps explain why we found a rise in the number of tornados and a change in their location when sea temperatures fluctuated...”
What Happened To The 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season? Good question, but once again I'm reminded of the utter futility of issuing a reliable "outlook" for hurricanes, or the winter to come, months in advance. Climate Central has a good explanation; here's an excerpt: "...Forecasters say that three main features loom large for the inactivity: large areas of sinking air, frequent plumes of dry, dusty air coming off the Sahara Desert, and above-average wind shear. None of those features were part of their initial calculations in making seasonal projections. Researchers are now looking into whether they can be predicted in advance like other variables, such as El Niño and La Niña events. Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami, said that across the Atlantic this season “you had air sinking through a pretty large depth of the atmosphere...”
Image credit above: "A computer model image shows the extent of dry air flowing westward from Africa on August 16." Credit: WeatherBell Analytics.
Growing Wildfire Risk. The trends are clear: as the West continues to dry out and warm up wildfires are becoming bigger, and more intense over time. CoreLogic just released an update on the most vulnerable states and metropolitan areas. Texas and Colorado top the list, but in terms of insured property at risk California is also very much at risk. Details in today's edition of Climate Matters.
Wildfires Rage In Australia, Homes Destroyed. After a record warm winter Australia is experiencing a very early start to wildfire season, as reported by The Wall Street Journal; here' sa clip: "SYDNEY--Wildfires burning across parts of eastern Australia have destroyed a number of homes, blanketed Sydney in thick smoke and forced the closure of a major regional airport. Authorities are warning that many more homes could be at risk in New South Wales--the country's most populous state--as strong winds and high temperatures continue to fan the flames. "If we get through with less than 100 homes destroyed today, we have been lucky," said state Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons from an official Twitter account. Calls to the service weren't immediately returned. Emergency warnings have been issued for eight different areas by the rural fire service, according to its website..."
Photo credit above: "In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, smoke rises from a fire near Springwood, west of Sydney, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. Nearly a hundred wildfires are burning across Australia's New South Wales state, more than a dozen of which are out of control, as unseasonably hot temperatures and strong winds fanned flames across the parched landscape." (AP Photo/New South Wales Rural Fire Service).
Japan's Shocking, Deadly Deluge From Typhoon Wipha: 33" Of Rain In 24 Hours. Meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has the story - here's the intro: "Here’s an astonishing statistic: Typhoon Wipha dumped 33 inches (850 mm) of rain in 24 hours on Oshima Island, 75 miles south of Tokyo. It is the greatest rainstorm to occur on Oshima, populated by 8,200 people, since records began in 1991 reports the AP. It also twice the entire average rainfall for the month of October, notes the Wall Street Journal. “People on this island are somewhat used to heavy rainstorms, but this typhoon was beyond our imagination,” Yutaka Sagara, an island resident, told the AP. Incredibly, 17 inches (426 mm) fell in 4 hours and nearly 5 inches in one hour..."
Photo credit above: "Houses in a residential area in Oshima are buried by mudslides after a powerful typhoon hit Izu Oshima island, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Tokyo Wednesday morning, Oct. 16, 2013. Typhoon Wipha has lashed Japan, leaving at least seven people dead on a Pacific island south of Tokyo as it cut across the capital region and headed north." (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Ask Paul. Weather-related Q&A:
Are we passed the weather phenomenon that is known as Indian Summer yet? I need to resurface my flat roof with asphalt base coating before winter. No minimum temperature required but prefer it to be at least several degrees above freezing for a few days and dry.
Joe, Eau Claire, WI
Joe - technically we have to experience the first frost before we can call any subsequent warmth "Indian Summer". We should see our first sub-32-degree low by Sunday morning in the metro, but I don't see any big warm-ups through the first few days of November. The GFS model (below) shows highs near 50F next weekend, again around Halloween.
New Views Of Sandy. Here's a clip from a fascinating article at UCAR explaining some of the factors that contributed to Superstorm Sandy's size, ferocity and outsized storm surge (for a Category 1 strength storm at landfall on October 29, 2012): "...Since the January AMS meeting, Tom Galarneau, along with NCAR colleagues Chris Davis and Mel Shapiro, have analyzed additional AHW simulations, which they describe in the just-released paper. They explain that Sandy’s life cycle—unique in Atlantic hurricane annals—was actually a blend of several well-studied phenomena that hadn’t been previously shown to come together in such a way near a major coastline. As Sandy moved northeast, contrasting air masses created a pseudo-frontal system along the edge of the Gulf Stream’s warm water. The vorticity, or circulation, along this frontal zone (picture an atmospheric rolling pin oriented along the Gulf Stream) was gradually ingested by Sandy and tilted into vertical vorticity (now picture the rolling pin standing on one end). This helped the storm’s core to intensify, tighten, and regain its Category 2 status. It’s roughly similar to the smaller-scale process by which a supercell thunderstorm can ingest, tilt, and concentrate spinning air to produce storm-scale circulations (some of which can generate tornadoes)..."
Image credit above: "In this 3-D map of potential temperature, relatively cool air wraps around Sandy's core near the surface (purple and blue colors), while air parcels gain heat from moisture condensing into clouds and precipitation as they ascend through the storm’s core." For more details on this simulation, see the YouTube videos below. (©UCAR. Image courtesy Mel Shapiro, NCAR).
Jellyfish Are Taking Over The Seas, And It Might Be Too Late To Stop Them. Bad sushi anyone? Is this a result of more acidic ocean water, or more pollution? No idea, but this story makes me appreciate Minnesota's (jellyfish-free) lakes even more. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...Coastal areas around the world have struggled with similar jellyfish blooms, as these population explosions are known. These blooms are increasing in intensity, frequency, or duration, says Lucas Brotz, a jellyfish expert at the University of British Columbia. Brotz’s research of 45 major marine ecosystems shows that 62% saw an uptick in blooms (pdf) since 1950. In those areas, surging jellyfish numbers have caused power plant outages, destroyed fisheries and cluttered the beaches of holiday destinations. (Scientists can’t be certain that blooms are rising because historical data are too few.)..."
Photo credit above: "" AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa.
Beware Of Faulty, Flaky Facebook Weather Forecasts. As always, consider the source - here's an excerpt from The Capital Weather Gang: "In order to confront the spread of bad weather updates on Facebook, ask these questions before buying into them or, worse, sharing them:
* Do you know/trust the source? If you’ve never heard of the source before, disregard it and/or check information sources you trust for a second opinion.
* Is the source legitimate? Try to figure out who is maintaining the page that information or update is coming from. Is it a reputable news or weather organization like a TV station, newspaper, established private sector weather company (like AccuWeather or Weather Underground), or government agency (like the National Weather Service)? Is there available information about the meteorological credentials of the person/people managing the page?"
"The Last Chase". Robert Draper at National Geographic has a detailed, and haunting account of research meteorologist and veteran tornado chaser Tim Samaras's deadly encounter with a massive tornado in May; here's the introduction: "It’s shortly after six in the evening on May 31, 2013. Sitting in the passenger seat of the white Chevrolet Cobalt, the 55-year-old, bookishly handsome storm chaser momentarily gapes at the video camera that the driver of the car is pointing at his face. Then he looks back through the window at the outskirts of El Reno, Oklahoma. The wheat fields are eerily aglow and shudder from a vicious wind. No more than two miles away from the car, twin funnel clouds spiral downward from an immensity of blackness. What we hear in the man’s voice on the videotape is not quite terror. Nor, however, do his words sound clinically factual, in the manner of the scientist he happens to be. “Oh, my God. This is gonna be a huge one,” he says..."
More Americans Die From Car Pollution Than Car Accidents. This headline made me do a double-take; here's a clip from Quartz: "Some day our descendants will marvel that we ever lived in cities filled with emissions direct from the tailpipes of cars. A new study from MIT suggests that in the US, 53,000 people a year die prematurely because of automobile pollution, compared to 34,000 people a year who die in traffic accidents. These results more than double the number of people who die in the US every year as a result of automobiles, to nearly 100,000. One in five Americans is in danger from air pollution, and it appears that the hazard is primarily their proximity to roadways.."
Photo credit above: "You might be able to avoid a pile-up, but you can't escape the smog." AP Photo/Rick Bowmer.
Outdoor Air Pollution Causes Lung Cancer, WHO Says. I don't take Minnesota's (relatively) clean air for granted, and neither should you, according to this excerpt of a Bloomberg story: "Outdoor air pollution can cause lung cancer, a World Health Organization agency said, ranking it as a carcinogen for the first time. Pollution was also linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, based in Lyon, France, said in a statement on its Web site today, citing a review of studies. Air pollution, which has also been linked to heart disease, caused about 223,000 deaths from lung cancer globally in 2010, according to the IARC. Particulate matter, which comes from vehicles, power plants, other industrial sites and biomass burning and is a major component of the pollution, was evaluated separately and also found to cause cancer..."
59 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
58 F. average high on October 17.
62 F. high on October 17, 2012.
Trace of rain reported at MSP International yesterday.
TODAY: Mostly cloudy and chilly. Afternoon shower possible. Winds: NW 10-15. High: near 50
FRIDAY NIGHT: More clouds, heavy jacket weather. Low: 37
SATURDAY: Lot's of clouds, PM shower or sprinkle. High: 45
SUNDAY: Early frost, late rain showers. Wake-up: 30. High: 46
MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, few flakes in the air? Wake-up: 32. High: 40
TUESDAY: Early freeze. Partly sunny & brisk. Wake-up: 27. High: 41
WEDNESDAY: Patchy clouds, still nippy. Wake-up: 30. High: 42
THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Wake-up: 32. High: 44
Supreme Courty Agrees To Hear Greenhouse Gas Case. The Los Angeles Times has the story - here's the introduction: "The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a utility industry challenge to the Obama administration’s environmental regulations that would limit greenhouse gases coming from power plants and factories. The justices agreed to rule on whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s restrictions involving motor vehicles give the agency the power to impose similar restrictions on “stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases,” which would include everything from power plants and refineries to apartment buildings and factories. The court, however, turned away the most aggressive challenges to the EPA’s authority to regulate heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions..."
The U.S. Is Now The Biggest Oil Producer In The World. Fracking (shale oil extracted via hydraulic fracture) has pushed us over the top. Here's a clip from an eye-opening story at Fast Company: "So long, Saudi Arabia. The U.S. is projected to be the biggest supplier of oil in the world this year when biofuels and natural gas liquids are taken into account, according to data released from PIRA Energy Group. The growth in U.S. oil production has been rapid--it was just last year that the U.S. overtook Russia to claim the second place spot. Now, thanks to the shale oil boom, the U.S. has climbed above even the Middle Eastern oil empire of Saudi Arabia. And while both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. increased oil production in 2013, the U.S. ramped up production faster than the Saudis. According to a press release from PIRA, the U.S. oil "growth rate is greater than the sum of the growth of the next nine fastest growing countries combined and has covered most of the world's net demand growth over the past two years..." (Image: Clean Technica).
These Maps Show Where The U.S. Is Most Vulnerable To Oil Shocks. The Washington Post provides perspective - here's an excerpt: "How do America's vulnerabilities compare globally? For that we can turn to the "Oil Security Index," a new project from Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE) and Roubini Global Economics. The United States, they find, is still more exposed than most other advanced economies to disruptions in the global oil supply.."
Response To Readers: Combating Climate Change With Nuclear Power And Fracking. There's a link to the original article and a follow-up from the author. Is nuclear power and fracking the lesser of the energy evils when compared to coal? Here's an excerpt to an article at Forbes: "With more than 7,500 views and 180-plus tweets, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read the original HBS Working Knowledge piece, The Case for Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking, and, in particular, for sharing your thoughts with one another. I don’t expect the article has changed minds, but I do hope it encourages people to open their minds to consider new possibilities. Things that were once seen as relatively safe are now understood as likely to be quite dangerous, such as coal burning’s contribution to global warming driven by worldwide cumulative CO2 emissions. Perhaps, the opposite is also true. Are things that were once seen as quite dangerous now potentially relatively safe as result of new understandings and innovations?..."